Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Little Cloud

As an extension of our Eric Carle author study and an opportunity for discovery, exploration, and imagination, we took a trip to the art museum! A wonderful employee at the museum read "Little Cloud" and then she and the children worked together to interpret paintings with clouds.  They were really engaged and did a great job determining what kind of day it was, where the sun might be, what it felt like in the painting, just by examining the paintings! Then, they used cotton balls and crayons to make their own cloud pictures. 
After our trip, we revisited "Little Cloud" with our new copy of the book. Then we went outside to make some observations of real clouds! The children had a great time looking at the clouds and discussing what shapes and images they saw. Clouds are so cool, aren't they? They "change" into so many things! We talked about making our very own book about a little cloud.

Making observations is fun!
When we went back into the classroom, each child received a blue piece of paper with the words "The little cloud changed into a ________". I offered the children the option of using paint or glue and white streamer paper for making their clouds. They all had great ideas (unicorn, hermit crabs, me!!) and followed through, taking their time. When they finished making their clouds, they wrote whatever they made their clouds look like and also wrote their names. There was invented spelling and letter strings - what's not to love about emergent literacy?? 
The only problem with the paint/paintbrushes and the streamer paper was that it went on so quickly, and it was so much so quickly! They will still make beautiful pages in our book, but it made me rethink the materials that we used. 

I did the same activity with a different group today - some things were better and some things were not - but this is what's interesting and wonderful about school.... the teachers and students are ALL learning. Today, of course, was a completely clear, blue sky kind of day, so we couldn't really observe clouds. We still revisited the book though and talked about what clouds look like. So it could have been better if we had clouds, but it still worked out. What definitely seemed to work better than the first time around was that I still provided paint, but instead of using paintbrushes, the children used Q-tips. It made for much more detailed illustrating and because it took longer for the paint to get onto the paper, we had more time to hold conversation during our work. 

There are one or two small groups who haven't met with me for this observation/bookmaking, so we will see what changes, works, doesn't work... it's always an experiment isn't it? 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Title Undecided (But a GREAT book!)

I wanted to share another story made by a group of children. The authors of this story are three 3 year olds and a 4 year old. One of the 3 year olds insisted that the story begin with "hello" and end not with "the end", but "goodbye". I thought that was really beautiful because in telling the story, we are communicating with one another, having a conversation - I love it. The students came up with the words of the story during a small group meeting recently, and today we reread it and the children made illustrations to go with the story. I won't say anymore yet, I'll just share the story and illustrations: 

Hello. A huge dinosaur eats a little dinosaur. 
The little monkey plays with the Incredible Hulk hermit crab.
And the huge dinosaur loves the Incredible Hulk. 
The monkey went away. They don't know what to do.
The Incredible Hulk saves the big, huge dinosaur from the museum. 
The Incredible Hulk was still alive and he got all his Incredible Hulk family. Goodbye.

FYI, Incredible Hulk is our pet hermit crab - he's rather large and is famous in our classroom for pinching me - he latched on to me, it was pretty painful! 

It was really wonderful to break this project into different days, rereading the story today with the children and revisiting the experience with them before making illustrations. The students were so excited, remembering what they had said, reciting it with me and exclaiming "Oooh! I said that!" Each child remembered exactly which parts of the story they had contributed - it was just a great day!